Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

I can't imagine

Being a fat guy, and riding a bike (albeit far less than I should), it was inevitable that I became a fan of the Fat Cyclist blog. If you haven't read it and have any interest in cycling, you should check it out. But right now he's going through about the worst thing I can imagine - he's watching his wife die of cancer. If you've got a minute, stop by and wish him well, lend him a little of your strength. Right now he needs it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Return of the grievous degenerate

With apologies to Gram Parsons, of course. There's a valid question at the end, so skip ahead if you want.

I'm back in Charlotte-town after what seems like a month away, when in reality it was more like a week. I was back in Vegas, this time ostensibly for work, but at a trade show in the entertainment industry, that often equates to a fair amount of play. Not to be so this time, I was at the show or in meetings/dinners with manufacturers for 12-14 hours every day, leaving very little time for the pokering.

Suzy and I headed out a day early, in hopes of getting some festivities out of the way before the festivities began, as it were. We met up with CK and F-Train for lunch, and along for the ride was surprise guest brdweb, who was just finishing up some training for work. Or at least that was the claim. And he didn't look like he'd been rolled by a hooker, so I guess he was telling the truth. We dug in at the Pizza Palace at the IP, which at $5.50 for two slices and a soda, is the best lunch value on the strip, then wandered downstairs for some gambool. We lost a little at let it ride, then a little at craps, then found the douchebaggiest dealer in the world at a 3-Card Poker table (or maybe Suzy and I played 3-Card alone, and the d-bag was at Let it Ride, I can't remember). So after we lost a little there, decided to wander over to the Mirage to see the baby tigers.

Yeah, that was the idea, anyway. So we met up with John and Barry, two of my work buddies who had just gotten in and were starving since they were still rockin' the East Coast time and felt like it was dinner. We'd just eaten two hours earlier, but really, do you think I miss many meals? So we hung with them at Japonais at Mirage for a bit and managed to crush our way through $400 worth of sushi pretty easily.

If there's a cheap but good sushi joint in Vegas and you want to make an excursion there in December, lemme know.

So after that we ambled over to the poker room where F-Train and brdweb were playing 3/6 and CK took a seat in a 5/10 Omadraw game while Suzy and I got on a 3/6 list. We ended up getting seats, but then everyone else wandered off. We played for a little while until some asshat at the end of the table decided he didn't approve of all the "conversation" at our end of the table. You know, obviously out of hand things like my wife asking me "how much is it to me?" and "can I raise?" that kind of stuff. So since the old asshat made a stink about us talking, the dealer instructed Suzy to ask questions only to her (which is correct), but I still racked up as soon as Suzy felted the old fuck and he had to rebuy. So we took his money and left.

Now I realize that there are regulars that a casino has to cater to somewhat, and I don't have an issue with the dealer doing her job. My issue, and it's becoming more of one the more I play casino poker, is with the old fucks. Don't get me wrong, I like some older people, and I'm making a generalization here, but there's a bunch of nasty old fucks at a poker table. If you want proof that I like some old people, ask Jim, or better yet, Nate. He's older than Moses and I like him just fine.

But you get these old fucks who show up and buy in short, don't ever give any action, and shoot every fucking angle they can think of. I see a guy in WWII ball cap, and I assume I'm gonna see a slowroll at some point. These assclowns call you down with bottom pair, no kicker, and then bet out when they hit their second pair, but don't want to turn their hand over at showdown until after you table top pair and they know they're good, regardless of whether they're acting in turn or not. They'll fold out of turn, fake a bet and check, grab chips to fake a call to induce a check, fake a muck and bet, all kinds of rinky-dink asshattery that slows down the game, but they'll be the first to jump on you if you do something they don't approve of. Because they are the arbiter of the game, of course.

And they're not there to haver fun. They're not there to make money, because really, at the lowest limits, limit poker in a casino is pretty much unbeatable mathematically. They exist only to spread misery and bide their time until they die. So I'm at the point know where once an old fuck makes is oldfuckedness known to me at the table, I try to win one big pot off him, and then rack up. There's enough poker in the world without having to play with doucheballs.

Don't worry, there's plenty of young fucknuggets out there, too. And one of them was responsible for me tripling up my last session at the IP, but that's for another post.

So the valid question - if the Venetian was willing to host another tournament for us in December, how many of you would be willing to play? I sent an email this afternoon inquiring, despite my earlier protestations of not organizing anything. Our rooms are booked for the MGM, since there was a killer deal. I get in Thursday afternoon, and my wife and stoner sister are getting in late Thursday. So if anybody's holding, and would share, hook up with my sis on Friday or Saturday, she'd really appreciate it since she can't carry on the plane. And if you know what I mean, then I'm talking to you.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Honest Question

Can one person make a difference in our country by running for office? Or is our system so corrupted by partisan politics and pork that one person of principle cannot make a difference, regardless of party affiliation?

This question has nothing to do with the election in 17 days, and everything to do with the one two years from now.

You're an educated bunch, and some of the smartest people I know. So tell me, does one person have the power to change anything?

And if not, what would it take for one person to make a difference?

Friday, October 17, 2008

I live

And at some point I'll write up last weekend's Vegas trip. Let it suffice to say that two winning sessions and one high hand jackpot are not enough to make a profitable trip out of 4 days in Vegas.

Things I learned this trip -

1) The Venetian is superior to almost every room in town on almost every level.
2) The 10/20 game at Mirage is not a bad game
3) Don't call big raises from anyone over 65.
4) The Hard Rock poker room is pretty nice, and the dealers typically have big tits.
5) AQ is not enough of a favorite of K7 to keep me in the Venetian noon tourney.
6) The play at Harrah's is almost bad enough to justify the $6/hand for rake and jackpot drops

I'm headed back out next week, this time for work, so I'll have less time to gambool (which is probably safer), but I'll have a proper post at some point that will regale you with tales of Purple Hooter shooters, 2-outers, puking and a great dinner for our buddy Brian's birthday.

As our waitress at Hofbrauhaus said "It's not Friday night unless the ambulance gets called."

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A pleasant surprise

I'd forgotten that I'd submitted the story of our wedding to Pauly for Truckin'. If you've never read the silly story of how Suzy and I got married on my lunch break, head over and check it out. As always, I'm in the company of writers I don't deserve to share the page with, but I'll take the talent by association.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

So this is not really up for discussion here...

But if you want to chat about it over a beer, I'm all in favor. This post is designed to outline why I'm voting for Barack Obama for President in a little less than a month. It's not designed to tell you to do the same, nor is it intended to sway your opinions. These are my opinions, and if there's anything in the world I'm an expert on, it's my opinion. Feel free to leave comments, but don't waste your time in silly attacks. If they annoy me, I'll delete them. It's my blog, after all :).

There are a few reasons that I'm supporting Obama in this election, and I probably won't get to all of them here, but I'll try.

1) He comes across as a real person. Yeah, I know the classic line "sincerity? I can fake that." But Obama presents a sincere face. He has me convinced that he still remembers what it was like to be poor. I also remember what it was like to be poor. Yesterday. And maybe again tomorrow. I can relate to this guy, and that counts for a lot with me. After years and years of political figures that seemed so detached, having a candidate who seems much more down-to-earth is huge.

2) He's eloquent. I'm sorry, but the last two presidents we've had either were (W) or sounded like (Clinton) stupid rednecks. There's no question in my mind that Bill Clinton is a very intelligent man, but he frequently sounded stupid. There's no question in my mind that W has the IQ of a houseplant, and he frequently fails to live up to that low standard. I want someone who can stand up in front of the world and present himself well. He's put-together, clear-spoken and eloquent.

3) He's willing to sit down with bad guys before we bomb the shit out of them. War is, in my opinion, the ultimate failure of diplomacy, and someone who comes out and says "Yes, I will sit down and talk with _________________" insert name of despotic dickweed here. Is the kind of leader I want. I don't want a leader that will commit the lives of our troops without exhausting every single diplomatic alternative first. If we are attacked, then bomb 'em back to the stone age. But if not, then I want someone who will talk first, and shoot later.

4) He's young and healthy. I don't think a man who is 10 years past the age of his first Social Security check has the stamina to run our country. Almost every president we've had looked like death warmed over by the time they left office. McCain is a cancer survivor, POW survivor and generally an old man. Regardless of running mate, I want the candidate I vote for to have as good a chance as possible of living out the full term. And there are some sectors of public careers where 72 is the mandatory retirement age, not the time to start a new career.

5) He's willing to look at alternative energy sources. I'm tired of hearing all this stuff about drilling. By the time we can get new wells built, we could have spent that money building wind farms, solar farms and other alternative fuel methods and it'll take the same time and money! I'm enough of a hippie to want cleaner air, so that means less oil, domestic or otherwise.

6) He wants to end the war in Iraq. And fast. Since I was never in support of the war in the first place, obviously that's gonna be a big one with me.

7) He favors stem cell research, which is huge with me. Too much Alzheimer's in my family for me to not pay attention to this as an issue.

8) My taxes would not increase under Obama's plan. I don't make more than $250K in a year, so my income tax wouldn't go up. I also wouldn't see any breaks, since I itemize and don't have any kids in college. But my taxes wouldn't increase. According to the Tax Policy Center, my taxes would actually decrease under both candidates' plans, but Obama's plan would save me about $200 each year. I got that from CNN/Money, so insert liberal bias statement here.

9) Better backup. This isn't a huge point with me, since I'm voting for a president and not a VP, but I think Biden is a political lifer and no better or worse than most of them. I think Sarah Palin is an abject idiot who should never be allowed back into the contiguous states, so it matters a little.

10) I do believe in change. And I used to think John McCain would be the guy to do it. Before his own party killed him off in SC in 2000, I was a big McCain supporter. But after the Republicans killed his campaign, he stepped into line with whatever the big boys told him to do, and has done so for the past 8 years. He used to be a maverick, now he's just another old rich white guy ready to fuck up my country. So I'm gonna give the brotha from Chi-Town a shot. Seriously, it can't get any worse than the past 8 years.

These opinions are completely mine, and they're my opinions, so you don't really even get to tell my I'm wrong. You can tell me you disagree, but it won't matter. I'm not an undecided, so unless video shows up in the next few days of Bill Ayers teaching Obama how to build pipe bombs in his den, I'll pretty much stick with this plan.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Yeah, another political post

But this one has nothing to do with Obama or McCain. Or about the fairly entertaining debate between Joe Biden and Tina Fey. But here's the question - what's wrong with tax and spend as a governmental philosophy?

Now let's make things very clear - I don't like paying taxes. I don't like giving my money away to the government, event though there are things that I do want the government to pay for, like armor for soldiers, airplanes with missiles to defend my house, and teacher salaries. Not to mention garbage pickup. That's kind of a big one for me. And yes, my taxes do pay for garbage pick up in Charlotte. Not my federal taxes, but taxes nonetheless.

But I hear a lot of people griping about "tax and spend Democrats" while claiming to be fiscally conservative. Now my question is - what is more fiscally irresponsible, taxing and spending, or just spending? Our government seems hell-bent on spending trillions of dollars every year, and the last time I checked, that money has to come from somewhere. So either we pay for it in taxes, or we borrow it from other countries and pay for it in taxes later.

So while I'd prefer to pay less in taxes, and certainly agree that there are a lot of government programs that could be cut (and yes, I believe the NEA is one of them, regardless of the fact that I'm an artist), I realize that our government spends money like a 17-year-old with daddy's gold card, and I'd rather have someone say "The government is going to do these things, and here is how I'm going to tax you to pay for it." At least that way I could decide if I liked those things, was willing to pay for those things, and vote accordingly. But everybody now is giving me bs lines about how they're going to cut my taxes while spending a couple trillion bucks on economic rescue plans and war. And I don't believe any of it. You can't continue to cut taxes and increase government spending, the math just doesn't work.

So either tax and spend, or don't spend. But don't not tax and keep spending, that's just bad math.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Contest

So I promised a flowery, embellished account of my wing-eating contest with Jordan. And it's coming. And since John Juanda won't just fucking put Stanislav Alekhin away at the final table of the WSOP-E so I can finish this recap and GO TO BED, now's as good a time as any.

Hey, at least I haven't been covering that thing for 15+ hours.

So our hero spent the afternoon preparing for battle, forgoing all sustenance in favor of libations (or, I didn't eat much and drank a lot) in light of his upcoming battle. It was sure to be an epic confrontation, the litigator versus the lighting designer, the Jew versus the Gentile, the North versus the South, the... you get the picture.

It was with no small trepidation that our hero sallied forth onto the field of battle. He was the Goliath of the match, facing a smaller, nimbler opponent. Frankly, an opponent that looked a little like an appetizer himself.

I did mention that I'd stopped eating early in the day, right?

The plates of battle were brought forth, and extra libation was provided for the competitors. The mighty Jordan applied his headgear, a bandana of intimidation +2, and forsook the option of a chair, choosing to stand and attack the wings. Our hero sat, napkin tucked into his t-shirt, calmly waiting the go-ahead nod.

And it began - 10 wings - as hot as the kitchen could make them - to the finish or to the vomit! Jordan did indeed leap out to an early lead, largely on the strength of his two-fisted attack. Our hero waded in gamely, methodically, like there was no hurry. Because there wasn't. Slow and steady was the plan, and when the bones began to hit plates, we were even. Around wing #4 there was a moment of concern as a series of volcanic mini-belches wracked my frame, threatening with an explosion of wing from mouth, nose, ears, and other places that food was not supposed to explode from. But I prevailed, the fate of our team and the pride of my Southern heritage riding on this one contest.

As Jordan turned his back on me to play to the crowd, I picked up my most challenging wing - a massive drumstick with far more skin than was necessary. I knew if I could get through this wing without losing much speed, I was in good shape. I didn't lag much, and as Jordan turned back to me, I had a 1-wing lead. I grabbed a flapper, and showcasing a talent developed by years of eating a LOT of chicken, sucked it clean in a second, giving myself a solid lead and becoming comfortable in the bout. Jordan found himself hung up by his grab and stuff tactic, with two hands full of wing and more chicken in his mouth than he could chew, while I just plowed through the wings without pause. As I grabbed for my last wing I saw that he had one in his mouth, one in his hand, and one on his plate, and I knew that victory, at long last, was mine. I sucked the last wing clean, stood, spiked the bones into my plate and raised my hands in victory.

The other benefit to my slower approach was that I was a little cleaner than Jordan at the end of the match.
Now I never mentioned to anyone the real reason that I felt I was the clear leader in this event the whole time. It's not because I outweigh Jordan by a good 40 lbs. It's not that I'm a redneck. It really all goes back to my childhood. I grew up on a chicken farm. My parents had something in the neighborhood of 8,000 of the little bastards when I was a kid. And one pecked me when I was very small. Ever since that day, I've eaten a fuckton of chicken, and I see that feathery bastard's face on every piece of chicken I eat.

It's personal. It's payback. And with that kind of Freudian shit going for me, Jordan never stood a chance. He kept it close, though, and for that, good game, bro.

Photo by Bam Bam

Bash Semi-Report Vol. 1 - The tourney

Since I suck at trip reports (let's face it, I'm no Jordan) I've just got a couple stories to tell about my Bash experience. But suffice to say that it was great seeing everybody again, especially the folks I've had far too little time to hang with at these gatherings in the past. It was also great to see everybody that's worked so hard all summer getting a chance to blow off a little steam - one of my favorite images of the weekend will always remain Otis pogoing to "My Own Worst Enemy" without a care in the world.

But there was a poker tournament, and my table certainly led the charge in rebuy early and often. Al leapt out to an early rebuy lead when he kept his word of shoving all in blind on the first three hands. I caught up pretty quickly when I shoved, not blind, on the following three hands, one of which was Riggs crushing me with a runner-runner inside straight draw as he peeled off a six on the river. Let's all remember that it was Riggs dropping a deuce on me on the river against The Luckbox when we were heads up at the Bash tourney two years ago that gave his Hammer a pair against my Korean Jew to cripple me. So, new Bash tradition - Riggs deals Falstaff dead.

But who cares? It was during the rebuy period! Rebuy! And on rebuy #5, things started to go my way. First I got aces. I got no action to my under-the-gun shove, but I got aces. Really? You laid down AJ to ME of all people preflop during the rebuy period? That was a bad beat. But then the same guy doubled me up when he called the next time he picked up AJ and I shoved. I had AQ, I got more chips. I doubled up again before I got moved to another table, where there hadn't been nearly as many rebuys (Al, Drizz and I were up to 14 at that point). So there weren't that many chips at my new table, and I didn't know as many of the players, but I managed to pick up a monster just before the end of the rebuy period to stack Vinnay and Evy (I think they were in the hand) with 7d-6d. I was in a blind, Evy raised preflop, Vinnay called or re-raised, I looked down at soooted connectors and jammed. They both called with A-10, I hit a 6 on the flop and rivered the straight. I had mucho chips.

Once the rebuy period was over, I played the hand of the weekend against Vinnay, who I've now busted a few times with donk moves, not that this was one of them. Apparently the first time we played together, I stacked him with the Hammer at a blogger gathering. This time I called his 3x BB raise from the big blind with 8h-5h. Flop comes down 7h-6h-7x, and I've made a gutshot straight flush draw. I check, Vinnay bets, I raised 4x his bet. He thinks for a minute and says "you did this the first time we played together."

To me, I thought he meant that I got uber-aggressive and tried to steal his chips, which is highly likely. But, since I'm an ass, and I wanted him to fold, I responded with "Did I stack you that time?"


"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

I mentioned I'm an ass, right? He thought for a moment more, and made my second preferred move from him - he shoved. I had a bunch of outs, and a bunch of chips, so I called. I was actually better off than I thought, since he shoved with Ace-high. I hit a 5 on the turn to take the lead, and the 6h on the river made my straight flush. Vinnay gave me the BEST. BOUNTY. EVER. when he whipped out an XL Captain Hammer T-shirt from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and I was a happy Falstaff.

I remained a happy Falstaff until we got to the final table and it got to be past 3AM. By that point I had over 25% of the chips in play, and the Rooster, the other big stack, with almost as many chips, had just been moved to my right. It only took a couple hands for him to come over the top of a preflop raise for all his chips, and I had found my moment. I looked down at A-Q and snap-callled. Rooster showed A-10, and the short stack showed A-5. A 5 on the flop, no help for the Rooster, and I had about 50% of the chips in play.

And then I blew it. I couldn't adjust my game enough to stay alive with the blinds escalating amazingly fast, and I tried to continue playing the same patient game that got me to the chip lead with 6 players remaining. I should have just put people to a decision on every hand, but I couldn't find that gear, and when I doubled up a short stack, I found myself back in the middle of the pack. I picked up pocket sixes on the button, shipped it in, ran into tens, and went home. I was pretty frustrated at the implosion, and a little frustrated that the guys changed the timing on the levels on us at the final table, but I understand why. It was ridiculously late, no one expected the event to go as late as it had, and they needed to get out of there. I was still grumpy, but got over it the next day when I found out that our donkishness raised close to $2k for the Boobie Charity. And that was the whole point, anyway. That and my kickass new t-shirt.

So a good time was had by all, and Herb and Veronica did a great job of managing their short stacks at the final table to chop first place. Herb, incidentally, was my nemesis all night, being the guy who laid down AJ to me preflp when I jammed with Aces in the rebuy period, then being the shorty I doubled up to find myself with a medium stack, then knocking me out an orbit later. Homeboy had my number all. night. long. Good people, good time, and good eats!

Don't worry, the legendary tale of Sir Falstaff vanquishing the Evil Jewish Lawyer in a wing-eating contest is coming soon. It's a tale worthy of the Bard himself, as our very own Shylock bathes in wing sauce in an Achilles-like attempt to become invulnerable, but I become his hillbilly heel to take down victory. Yeah, I know, Jordan's already written the story up very well, but I plan for a lot of thee's and thou's and fairy tale flourishes. Plus I'm bored today - I'm home playing chauffer to Suzy as she gets 4 teeth pulled and then has to go back to the orthodontist later this afternoon. Yep - festive.